EDITORIAL: Poor judgment not an excuse

NANAIMO – City's third structure fire of year caused by careless smoking raises question: should smokers be charged when endangering lives.

Monday’s structure fire in a townhouse complex on Pryde Avenue marked Nanaimo’s third blaze this year started by careless smoking.

Like the previous two fires in January, this one was started by a cigarette left burning unattended.

In all three cases the fires broke out in multiple-family dwellings and not only displaced residents, but endangered lives.

So far, luckily, no lives were lost.

The results of the investigation into the cause of Monday’s fire – and the discovery that there was evidence of only one working smoke alarm in four townhouses affected by the blaze – prompted Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, to predict it’s just a matter of time before Nanaimo has another fire fatality.

Those words from a man who has seen the results of death by fire first hand and is becoming increasingly frustrated that people just don’t get it when it comes to smoking in bed and non-functioning smoke alarms.

Accidents happen, and some people get away with careless behaviour for years, even lifetimes without an incident. But roll the dice enough times and sooner or later the luck runs out with tragic consequences that are preventable.

It begs the question: should there be legal consequences for those who smoke in bed and start fires that imperil the lives of innocent people?

There already are laws for speeding and drinking or texting while driving.

So why not consequences for other forms of behaviour equally dangerous to life and property?

It’s clear pounding the message over and over to some people is not working – isn’t it time to consider alternatives?